Quick update, and Hugo

Well, it’s been about two months since my last post, which ironically was about my intention to write more frequently.

To be fair, I wrote in my journal a number of times between then and now, but this is my first public post since then.

Today I discovered a Go-based static site generator called Hugo that fascinates me with its speed and usability. I’m going to try using it to replace the current structure and content of benovermyer.com.

Whatever happened to benovermyer.com and manatrance.com?

Recently I canceled my paid hosting and relinquished control of benovermyer.com and manatrance.com, my two domain names. Up until now, these served as the primary way to reach me on the web.

Once I decided to relinquish all control of my finances, however, I purged everything I had a subscription or recurring payment to. The only exceptions to this were necessary services like electricity, water, phone service, and so on, and also the World of Warcraft Annual Passes that we contracted into.

This move was in no small part motivated by my increasing adoption of the world view of Leo Babauta over at Zen Habits. By removing my ability to impulse-buy, I get rid of a major distraction. This is just the first step in a plan to greatly increase my hummingbird-like attention span.

Every so often, I’ll post an update on this process.

Leveraging Web 2.0 for a tabletop gaming company

After the successful launch of the Silver Gryphon Games website, I began looking around at web technologies and software that we could use to better operate as a decentralized company. These days, it’s impractical for an RPG company – especially one as small as SGG – to keep offices and on-site staff. Only a select few of the larger companies do this. For the rest of us, it’s mostly a matter of keeping track of freelancers and perhaps one or two local resources. For that, we don’t need offices. We don’t even need warehouses when we use POD services for printing purposes.

That’s where Web 2.0 comes in. Recently, we’ve been using several of Google’s tools for communication and collaboration. Gmail and Google Docs have been central to our efforts for awhile now. We are experimenting with Groups as a collaborative medium. It seems to be most useful as a way to communicate with multiple freelancers at the same time, kind of like a super-Wiki. We have yet to leverage Calendar, though I do see that on the horizon. I personally use Blogger for this devlog.

Since we began using these tools, our productivity has increased measurably. Even Blogger, which isn’t used in the creative process directly, grants a certain measure of accountability that serves as excellent motivation.

The one thing we really lack in terms of pre-built solutions is something to handle milestone scheduling and task management. Google doesn’t have a tool like this, which makes it a little more difficult to integrate into our workflow. I’ve been looking at a few options, like Basecamp, but we have yet to select any. It’s possible that we’ll just use Groups for this purpose.

What would be really useful, though, would be an integrated suite that combines all of our needs into one package. These needs can be loosely defined as the following:

  • Searchable, indexable, categorized email
  • Real-time multi-user text, voice, and video communication
  • Quick notes
  • Hierarchical roles-based task and project management
  • Accounting control and analysis
  • Collaborative document editing
  • Easy-to-use interfaces for all of the above

Of course, there are others, but they’re more nebulous or uniquely “RPG.” For example, the ability to playtest online is useful when we need to all hack away at a particular mechanic. For this, online RPG software like the old and obsolete OpenRPG helps but isn’t well-suited to either √Üther or Eiridia.

If anyone knows of any software that can do what we’re looking for (that is NOT Lotus Notes or a Microsoft product), let me know. I love Google’s tools, but if there’s something better out there, that’d be wonderful.